U.S. Rep. Joe Barton of Texas plans to introduce a federal bill to legalize online poker, hoping to pull the estimated $6 billion industry out of the shadows at a time when its top operators are facing serious legal troubles.

The Republican lawmaker told The Associated Press he plans to introduce a bill on Friday that would let states choose whether they want to allow residents to play poker on the Internet.

He says potential operators would apply through a newly created office in the Commerce Department and need to have gambling licenses in at least one state.

Barton says he thinks the measure has a chance to pass as a stand-alone bill before the end of this session.

Current laws bar financial institutions from processing gambling payments.